Opportunities

I came to Whole Foods to write.  I’m with my little darlings so much that I find I need that change of location to get my brain running. I’ve tried a few other places but for some reason WFs fits best. It’s busy but not loud, and I can hide away and stare off into the distance out the window and day dream. I need to daydream when I write.

 

As I sat, in the midst of an email, an older lady sat down next to me. Generally people don’t speak to you if you’re on a laptop, but she was apparently unaware of this social courtesy and so she starts talking with me about this and that. I enjoy little more than getting to know a stranger for no other reason than to shoot the breeze, so it was a pleasant surprise. How much we can learn about the world and ourselves from just a few moments of chatting with someone in the park or in line at the grocery. The one thing I would love to bring back to the city  is idle chit-chat. It’s taken for granted. People are too busy with their errands and phone calls and business meetings. Chatting with a stranger just seems like a waste of time. But these little interests keep us connected to one another. They keep us human.

 

She told me to have a blessed day. I’m really going to try.

 

 

 

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guests

Shavuot was eventful. We had a guest stay with us and I’ve always felt that there is no better way to learn more about the world than by sharing a house with a stranger for 48 hours. I’ve always been the type to love guests, but now having four kids I find that I tend to enjoy over night guests (sans a few very close friends) a little more hectic than enjoyable.

But I decided I needed to be adventurous in my hospitality and she needed a place to stay, and so I extended my invitation. It turned out to be a nice match. She was educated in the study of how to be a good house guest –quiet, respectful, helpful– and I enjoyed being rewarding for moving out of comfort zone.

People watching isn’t the same as stalking and I have to make that disclaimer because  when I hear people use the phrase “people watching” I often wonder if they are just a glorified peeping Tom. Or you know, that old guy sitting on the bench watching teenaged girls pass by, not even bothering to hide his creepy manners. The real art of people watching allows you the chance  to really observe human behaviour and interaction. It’s good for developing characters and story lines. It’s also great for personal reflection–you get to see a bit of you in every person that walks by.

Even better is when you get to spend time with over-night house guests. It’s one thing to have a friend to dinner, but once you’re shacked up together for a two day yontif (Jewish holiday), you can’t help but become a little more authentic. I mean really, nobody looks (or smells) all that great by the 38th hour, and by the 45th, everyone is ready to be done.

There is always something to be learned when entertaining house guests. Sometimes you learn you have a lot in common with the person. Sometimes you learn that you really don’t. And then you learn how to find patience and grace as those remaining hours suddenly seem to stretch before you like years to a prisoner. Sometimes you learn about new experiences, or how it feels to be someone else. Sometimes you learn how much you miss walking around  in your pjs and slippers on early mornings.

This time, amongst other things, I learned how far I’ve come in my observance level and how worried I still feel on the inside that someone will only see how far I have left to go.

Both were good lessons for me.

 

 

 

today

This is the sort of day I wish I have super powers. Actually,  I wish that every day. What I could get done with arms that moved at super speed! But honestly I’d probably just knock myself out with a jab to the face or send a poor child flying across the room when he tried to hug me. I wouldn’t call myself clumsy, but I’ve been known to run into a wall or two in my day, high on the fumes of motherhood exhaustion.

 

My son recently came to me saying “Mom, listen to me count in Hebrew! Uno, dos, tres…”

My dear son, why do you think we are Hispanic? Do you idolize Dora? Have our neighbors captivated you with their beautiful Cinco de Mayo decorations? Is it because I often say “por favor”?  Don’t let me crazy good Mexican menu-ordering trick you into actually thinking I know the language. I’m just really don’t want to get the wrong dish.

Until last week I was under the impression we all conversed in English, but according to him we are speaking Hebrew, so maybe it’s just that every word is Hebrew to him? Kinda like the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding? (Give me any word and I’ll show you how it’s Greek.)

 

My baby boy has started standing and walking along furniture. It’s cute, but mostly disastrous. There is a good reason eight month old babies aren’t supposed to be mobile yet. They are just too stupid for their own good. He pulls anything on tops of his head, eat anything off of the floor, and the best part is that when he crawls along the floor, he pulls his own pants off.  But mostly it’s cute.

 

I had this awesome epiphany this morning about childhood discipline and how to relate to my children better. A rush of peace came over me because I felt I had really honed in on something truly special. Kids are just little adults all caught up in their own world. Communication is truly the key to all of the arguments between my kids, and if I take the time to listen more and hand out punishments less then they would follow my example.

My train of thought was interrupted by yet another bickering showdown between two of my children and after about five minutes of trying to get them to talk it out, I gave up and sent them all to their rooms and went to the kitchen to mumble things under my breath while eating cookies.

 

grandmother

Last night I woke up from one of those half-dreams–where you’re not sure if you’re awake or asleep, but probably a little of both. I was thinking about my grandmother and I was filled with sadness. I tried emailed a week an a half ago, but never heard back. She lives all the way down in Florida and though we used to see them  when they would come to visit my parents two or three times a year, I’ve never been able to make it down there. The daunting task of taking off that amount of time, managing to pay for that many plane tickets, and finding a place to stay nearby just never worked out, no matter how badly I wanted it to. She hasn’t been able to visit in about two years because her health so bad so I miss her a lot.

I thought to myself that I hate how when someone gets older it’s only then that you realize that you should have said much more… or done something more… and then suddenly a feeling came over me that it was just too late. I would never get to write down all the stories my grandmother used to tell me. I wanted to save something of her for my future. And in my sleep I started to cry and then I slept fitfully for several hours, promising myself I would call and check on her in the morning.

When I woke up this morning my father told me she died last night. I wasn’t surprised, considering. Just sad.

I know she was old. I know she was sick. I know she was my step-grandmother, but I’m so sad. I know she lived a good life, but I loved her so much. And I’ve already lost so much of my family the last several years. My grandfather, three great aunts, my aunt who was like a second mother, my favourite uncle, two cousins, both biological grandmothers and now her. Everyone one of them hurts. Sometimes when my phone rings my heart seizes up for a moment.

She wasn’t Jewish so I never know how to tell my friends when one of my non-Jewish family members die. For some reason I find it awkward. I guess that the view on death and how to handle the death of a loved one is so vastly different in Jewish circles than it is in the rest of the world. I asked my Rabbi if there is something special I should say or do and he told me just to offer words of consolation. I have to be honest, it seems so petty considering all we do when a Jewish loved one dies.

When my cousin died last year I wrote a tribute to him. Well really it was more a story of his funeral. Sounds weird, maybe. But it was very healing and I feel like he would have appreciated it. Since I wont likely be able to attend this funeral and since I haven’t spoken with her in a few weeks I feel disconnected.

All I can really think is that I cannot imagine how my grandfather will survive without her. And that makes me the saddest of all.

on bad words.

My 12 year old hit his hand on something the other day and let out a “damn it!”. I thought to myself for a moment then decided to pretend not to notice that, nor the way he looked at me wondering if I heard.

Later he asks me in the car, “Mom is it such a big deal if I say ‘damn it’? ”

“Not really. Just don’t tell anyone I said that.”

He laughed. And then I told him it’s a hard habit to break and he’d feel pretty stupid if he said it in front of the Rabbi or one of his friend’s parents, so he better think hard about it before he picks it up as a habit.

He’s such a mild-manner, people pleasing kinda guy, that it shouldn’t matter. But I know some people are uppity about the subject.

I just don’t get why curse words are such a big deal. I curse like a sailor. It ain’t exactly becoming, I admit. But I save it for the times when I don’t feel very becoming. It’s not like I go around throwing an f-bomb out there in ever day conversation. Okay, sometimes I do. But not like every sentence. Alas, I realize this isn’t really good social etiquette, so like picking my nose, I leave it for more semi-private moments. (Like you don’t pick your nose!)

Maybe it’s just something I hold on to from my past. Something I don’t want to let go of. The freedom of letting out a nice “bloody effing hell” now and again is just something I don’t think I can replace. Like a good cry, it just vents the system.

I posted something on my facebook the other day quoting the ever-great Dave Grohl–one of my favourite musicians for a plethora of reasons–and someone got all uptight because he using “foul language”. You know, to each their own. I didn’t apologize for posting it either, but I didn’t defend it. It just is. Honesty if you take issue with his cursing, the likelihood of you have any interest in his words is pretty nil to begin with.

My husband let a four letter word roll outta of his mouth like nothing the other day. I looked at him bug-eyed. “Now why do you wanna go around saying words like that?” (and I added “pretty boy” in my mind, because though he’s rugged with his long beard and manly hands, he’s always got a little bit of pretty boy in the twinkling of his eyes and the wrinkles around his mouth when he smiles.)

“You say it!”

“Yeah, but you’re better than me! You can’t curse!”

“What?!”

“I love that you don’t curse. It’s a good influence on me. Gives me something to strive for. When I curse it’s no big deal–people expect it. But when you curse it hurts my ears.”

“Isn’t that a double standard?”

Of course it is.

kvetchin’ and kvellin’

As it turns out, if you want people to read your blog, you have to read theirs. Further still you have to comment and link back to your own. Now that it is nearly obligatory that everyone with a computer has a blog, it’s not really all that easy to develop a blog community, or rather to jump into an existing one. So a big hello to like all 20 of you out there who may or may not read this. Thanks for obliging me. And I promise that as soon as I get around to remembering to find what new feed reader I uploaded (downloaded? Oh hell that screws with my pretty little mind) the blogs I read to, I will return the favour by regularly (okay semi-regularly) reading your blogs too.

I am writing! Lots! Just not posting it. Some of it’s even quite good! But, I keep getting hung up. I get half way into a really meaty story and then I get lost in the deep murky waters and I can’t figure out how it wants to end. I just sit there staring at the page, waiting for the rest to come upon me like a flood.

I think some level of this is brought on by distraction. I cannot seem to find more than an hour a day, once or twice a week to write, outside of Sunday.  At this point in my busy life I have a lot of balls to juggle and I can’t squeak out any more time than that during the day. If I stay up late to write my mind simply curls up and goes to sleep without me. If I get up early, it wakes the baby who also gets up early and who then wakes up all the other kids with his silly squeals and fusses, and damn if those kids don’t expect breakfast every single morning.

Secondarily I think sleep is vital to creative writing. Conversely severe insomnia is great for poetry. But it seems I’m stuck right dead in the middle with being just plain old under-slept.

From a mothering standpoint, I am in the thick of my best mothering years. I’m neither a newbie mom, nor an empty-nester, and I love my little ducklings so dearly. They are such cool little beings! I especially love having both a baby and a teenager. It’s the best! I don’t even remember my life before motherhood.

From a writer’s standpoint I can’t stop thinking about all I’m missing and how behind I am in just about every area. I mourn the loss of my own time. I pine for the freedom to have a little more breathing room in my life. Jealously and resentment are battles I fight every day as I see my friends becoming published left and right in this journal and that blog. Let’s not even mention books! How will I ever finish a book?

And… now the baby is awake. Such is life!

introvert?

Recently, somewhere on the internet, there was some test going around proving that most extroverts were really just introverts at heart, overcompensating for their shyness. This amused me as much as the BMI chart which states that most humans are overweight. To which I must ask, perhaps the charts are just under estimating how large the average human should be.

Why do people even want to follow charts and graphs and other expectations placed on us by unknown parties? We talk about not labeling our children, but we put so much work into labeling ourselves. Skinny, chubby, book-smart, socially awkward, introverted…

I find myself measuring up myself as I look in the mirror. I wonder if this outfit makes me look smart. I wonder if these glasses make me seem careless. Are these the eye brows of a mother of four? These are not the same hips I had when I was 18. Do people see the punk rawker with a little dash of Winehouse in me? Should I try to keep my tattoos covered so I don’t freak out the FFBers or should I wear them proudly? Can anyone see the years I spent trying to find myself? Maybe I look like I’m trying to hard. Maybe I’ll never fit in.

The way I figure it is that I’m either an introvert with a serious need to host parties now and again, and tell jokes that make everyone laugh. Or I am an extrovert who needs and inordinate amount of time completely alone and who gets really stressed out by the idea of always being “on”.

Either option makes me feel like I’m trying to live up to a label instead of just living. I don’t like that.